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Are You Guilty of Board Envy?

Are You Guilty of Board Envy?

This week’s feature is an excerpt from The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, Second Edition. For more information and to buy the book, visit our store. Also, see below for an account of how the Benevon Model benefitted one organization’s board.

Most nonprofits aspire to have their board become a “fundraising board,” either because they think that is what an ideal board should be, or because they think it would handle their fundraising needs forever. They berate themselves for not having this ideal fundraising board. I refer to this as “board envy,” and it is not rooted in any reality I have ever seen.

When you pull back the curtain from those well-established organizations with “fundraising boards” that are the envy of every other group, you will find a team of dedicated, hard-working staff who coordinate the process of strategically cultivating each donor and engaging volunteer board members at every step of the way, including the ultimate Ask.

The fantasy of the magical fundraising board that will do all the work and raise all the money is just that: a fantasy. Those organizations with “ideal” fundraising boards have a systematic plan for how they grow and cultivate relationships with donors. While they involve their board members strategically in the cultivation and asking process, they certainly don’t rely on their board members to save the day.

We work with many groups that have well-established fundraising programs, including groups that are already raising many millions of dollars each year before they come to our workshops. They often tell us they still do not feel they have a system for keeping their board members engaged. They experience board burnout and turnover, just like the small and mid-sized organizations do. They use our model as a mission-centered strategy for ongoing donor— and board—engagement.

If you are truly committed to leaving the legacy of self-sustaining funding, there is no better place to start than with your board. Rather than distracting your focus and wasting time comparing your board to others, get to work on specific strategies for keeping your board engaged.

Watch this testimonial from a board member at Respite Care in Fort Collins, Colorado, about how the Benevon Model provided a system for involving their board members in the fundraising process.